Planting Onions

I know it’s only January, and there’s snow on the ground – at least in places around here – but it’s time to start gardening, if you want to grow some of your own plants from seed.  This year, for the first time, I’ve decided to start onion seeds indoors.  They have to be started about 14 weeks before you want to put them in the garden, and onions can go in as early as April here in central Illinois – so that means now is the time to get started!

I’ve never grown onion from seed before.  I’ve used onion sets with some success.  We’ve had more success using onion plants, which we’ve ordered from seed catalogs.  Last year I had a bed that I put onion seeds in and some did germinate and try to grow, but the weeds just got way out of control and I lost them.  I’d like to be able to start my own from seed because it’s cheaper than buying sets or plants, and I hope to be able to start saving my own seeds.  This year I’m planting Yellow from Parma, which is supposed to be a good keeper for over the winter, and is a heritage variety which means I should be able to keep seeds from these plants for future years… but that’s another post for another time.

While browsing on a seed company site last year or the year before, I found an article on how to start onion seeds.  I’d forgotten about it until I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago.  For once I found what I needed BEFORE I needed it, instead of a few months AFTER.  It said to put them in something that you can fill 4″ – 5″ deep with soil.  Hmmm…  Seed trays are only about 2″ deep, so that won’t work.  So I bought a storage tote that is about 6″ deep and maybe 24″ x 18″.  It fit all of the seeds I had left from last year’s attempt at planting in the garden directly.  They are supposed to be about 1″ apart in all directions.   I pre-moistened before planting and then sprayed with water after.  The seeds are about 1/4″ deep.  Then I covered the box with plastic wrap and put them on the table under the lights.  Keith made a nice set-up to hang fluorescent lights over the table for our seedlings.

I’m not sure how many are actually in there.  I know they are farther apart than 1″.  Probably more like 1 1/2″ or 2″.  The seeds are black and it was hard to see where I’d put them.  Once they come up – assuming they do – I’ll count.  Then if I think I need more, I’ll buy another box and figure out where to put it.  I have more seeds on the way, but I have only one 8′ banquet table to put my seedlings on and I still have tomatoes and peppers and others to start in the next few weeks.  I’ll let you know how it goes.